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Power on trial: The waiting game

The Alfonse M. D'Amato District Courthouse, located at

The Alfonse M. D'Amato District Courthouse, located at 100 Federal Plaza in Central Islip, is seen on June 14, 2012. Photo Credit: Brittany Wait

Waiting game

And so we wait.

In the ninth-floor hallway of the Alfonse D’Amato federal courthouse in Central Islip.

In the building’s ground-floor cafeteria, where quite a few lawyers, defendants and reporters opted for corned beef sandwiches.

On wooden benches in the courtroom.

The defendants in the federal corruption trial — former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano; John Venditto, Oyster Bay’s former town supervisor; and Mangano’s wife, Linda — and their attorneys have the option to wait in a side room.

Mostly, they sit at the defendant’s table, or with family and supporters in the cafeteria.

Prosecutors, for their part, can wait in their offices, a few floors below.

After a few preliminaries, U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack sent jurors off to begin their deliberations at 9:53 a.m. Friday. Before then, spectators for the first time ever could hear jurors talking and laughing outside the courtroom.

It didn’t take long for the first pair of notes to emerge — one of which said Juror No. 2 had been selected as the group’s foreman.

After sending two more notes, the jury filed into the courtroom.

Azrack asked a question, and most jurors turned to their foreman before the judge informed them they should return to deliberations and inform the court, via note, of their decision about whether to have testimony read aloud or delivered to them in transcript form.

At 4:30 p.m., when the jury filed back into the courtroom for dismissal, there were more reporters in the courtroom than spectators.

“Good evening, good evening,” Azrack said, before dismissing them a half-hour earlier than usual. Some already had their coats on and purses slung across their shoulders.

Deliberations continue Monday, the beginning of Week 11.

Graduation day

Linda Mangano waited in the courtroom Friday without her lawyer, John Carman. That’s because Carman, a proud dad, was on his way to his younger daughter’s graduation in Philadelphia.

Just because Carman wasn’t there, however, didn’t mean he wasn’t there.

At one point, jurors sent out a note seeking more information from witness Laura Spence, an FBI special agent who took notes of interviews with Linda Mangano. For the first time in the trial, Mangano left her seat at the defense table to gather, with other lawyers, in front of Azrack.

Carman, who said he was in a parking lot, joined the discussion via cellphone.

He had concerns about whether jurors should receive a transcript of Spence’s testimony, rather than the read-back jurors had requested in their note.

Carman said he was “adamant” about that. He had even more to say but no one in the courtroom could understand him due to cellphone distortion that sounded like someone gargling.

As the discussion about Spence’s testimony continued, Carman had to be reached by phone a few times more.

At one point, Carman was dialed up aloud on a courtroom speakerphone. The call went to his office voicemail.

At another point, one lawyer joked, “We should tell him there’s a verdict.”

There wasn’t, of course. Which meant Carman could get back to celebrating his daughter’s graduation.

A room with a view

While the jury is deliberating, three alternate jurors are assigned to wait too, although they do not sit with the other jurors.

But, if, say, jurors ask for a read-back of evidence, the alternates join them in the courtroom, so they keep up with what’s going on in the event one of them has to replace a deliberating juror.

Meanwhile, the three sit in a room of their own.

After the other jurors left the courtroom, Azrack told the alternates, “You stay in a special place . . . [in] a lovely room with a window upgrade.”

A question of immunity

Several readers have asked about the deal Leonard Genova, Oyster Bay’s former deputy supervisor and town attorney, got for testifying as a prosecution witness after receiving full immunity from prosecution.

Jurors got an explanation, in Azrack’s instructions to them Thursday.

“One witness, Leonard Genova, testified under a grant of immunity from this court,” Azrack read aloud from a 54-page jury instruction document.

“Mr. Genova was ordered to testify notwithstanding his invocation of his Fifth Amendment right not to be required to incriminate himself,” she said, reading from a 54-page instruction document.

“Because I ordered him to testify, his testimony cannot be used against him in any criminal case, except in a prosecution for perjury, giving a false statement, or otherwise failing to comply with the order to testify,” Azrack said.

Information, please

Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine M. Mirabile, in her summation, said Oyster Bay’s disclosures to investors began only “because Newsday was asking questions.”

Several witnesses in the financial sector testified during the trial that their first indication that something was amiss involving town-backed loans to former restaurateur Harendra Singh came only after they received a call from a Newsday reporter.

“Thank God for Newsday,” Mirable said during her closing Thursday, “because without Newsday who knows if this would ever have been disclosed.”

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